Your opinion about maps with map-wide assets

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@sheikah said in Your opinion about maps with map-wide assets:

The large size of these maps and their inclusion in the matchmakers is the main reason I decided not to implement the client feature that would require people to download all the maps before joining a queue. The reason for this is that if someone has a slow internet connection or the download of this map freezes which I have gotten reports of then that would effectively stop these players from being able to use the matchmaker. This was not a tradeoff I was willing to make.

This is essentially the issue for the ladder / TMM aspect. It is a lot to download and that just takes time. Meanwhile people get stuck in the 'Preparing auto match' indicating 'Waiting for people to finish downloading'. This is what @maudlin27 is talking about too. And that is why I feel they can do more harm than good, at least for ladder / TMM.

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My only real problem with these maps in the map pool is that there is no feedback to whether someone is downloading or if it crashed when a game has been found, and the waiting time can be quite long (seems to be over a minute sometimes in my experience). That could be fixed if people were forced to download all the maps before being able to queue. If people have problems downloading the maps the best we can do is provide a different way than the client to download them. But others shouldn't get dragged down with them just because they have bad internet.
In custom games you have to download maps before joining, or at least there's a message that someone doesn't have the map, so they get kicked.
Ladder shouldn't be excluded from having the best maps we have to offer. I think it would be a shame not to use these maps.

Apart from that it would be good to have an easy way to see how much space your maps and mods are taking up (maybe in the "manage installed maps" window as a small info?), because some of these maps are really pretty big (around 150MB) and I can imagine it piling up over time.

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I think it's neat to have this style of maps available, but the map's data size is too large for certain aspects of practical use.

For perspective, I recently queued in the matchmaker and missed my match because the client had to download a map that was over 350 MB... I have relatively good internet. The issue was that the map's data size was about 7,000% as high as a normal map's data size might be (ie: ~5 MB).

Personally, I think that it can be neat to play on a map with things like a highly detailed map-wide decal, but if I have to wait 5 minutes to download the map as a result, I am less likely to join or host with that map as a result of it taking longer to download and it being harder to get others to join because they have to wait a while for it to download (and some may think that their client is not working properly, etc).

In regards to ladder/TMM, I think that it would arguably be better to not include maps requiring extra large amounts of data in ladder/TMM, as it results in too many instances of people 'finding a match' but not actually getting to play it. If a feature like a 'download all ladder maps' button is added to the FAF client, it would make including this sort of map substantially less problematic imo. However, some people have such slow connections that even that might be too problematic for them.

However, the aesthetics and immersion of large data size maps can be quite nice. So, having them in the vault to sometimes play on is a nice option to have.

If you can figure out how to do reduce the download times (whether via smaller data size, compression, etc), there might be some technical improvements that could help increase the viability of maps like these.

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Would this be a solution: As soon as you queue for ladder, it automatically starts downloading all missing ladder maps. As soon as you queue for TMM, , it automatically starts downloading all missing TMM maps. Don't want all of the maps? Don't join the queues.

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@arma473 @FemtoZetta

The large size of these maps and their inclusion in the matchmakers is the main reason I decided not to implement the client feature that would require people to download all the maps before joining a queue. The reason for this is that if someone has a slow internet connection or the download of this map freezes which I have gotten reports of then that would effectively stop these players from being able to use the matchmaker. This was not a tradeoff I was willing to make.

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I wouldn't mind a button to download the maps so that both options are available. You could include a warning that on slow internet connections it will not be worth it or something. But I suspect some people would happily leave their client open for a while to grab the maps so that they don't have to wait when they actually want to play.

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A button is planned eventually just need to figure out best place in the ui. And it isn't super high priority since once can just open up the map list.

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350mb are a real problem for those of us with datacaps. I wonder how much that could be brought down with some lossy compression without losing too much detail.

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Most of the size is in the decals which the game only accepts .dds of as far as I am aware so not sure what kinds of compression you could accept there.

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Can the maps themselves be compressed and then expanded on the client end?

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What I mean is that everything is zipped isn’t it? So perhaps you can optimize the dds file so that it will compress better when deflated. Something like taking all values that are very close to eachother but not quite the same and turning them all into exactly the same value so that the compression algorithm can do its thing.

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@furyritchie said in Your opinion about maps with map-wide assets:

Can the maps themselves be compressed and then expanded on the client end?

They already are compressed as zip files

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If those decals don't matter for gameplay, is it possible for one player to play without the decals while the other does?

In that case, make a normal and high res version of each map where the latter has no or small size decals.

Automatcher only ever downloads normal versions. With a button you can download all high res maps at once.

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@valki said in Your opinion about maps with map-wide assets:

If those decals don't matter for gameplay, is it possible for one player to play without the decals while the other does?

In that case, make a normal and high res version of each map where the latter has no or small size decals.

Automatcher only ever downloads normal versions. With a button you can download all high res maps at once.

This was a potential solution I was thinking of too. I provide the maps in the vault with low-quality assets and you can manually replace them with high-quality assets. You could even go up to 16K per texture (that is 300mb / texture) and Supreme Commander would bite, looks brilliant.

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@sheikah Are they compressed, or stored as a zip folder? I recall windows having an 'add to zip' which is essentially just the map in a file, with no compression.

When I use 7zip on Kaali I get these results:

  • unzipped: 258 mb
  • zipped: 158 mb
  • 7z: 130 mb

Regardless, it remains quite big 😞 . I would not know how to optimize the DDS for enflation / deflation. The format itself is quite compressed already. Storing them in another format (say .png) and turning them into a DDS file on the client isn't viable either - that requires memory and may just take longer than the download.

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I've updated the original post to contain imagery of some of the maps as requested. I hope to hear more opinions to determine an approach to take πŸ™‚

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@jip factor 2 of comressions doesn't seem too bad. I was hoping that the compression in used for .dds files was variable. But it seems to use only fixed settings.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S3_Texture_Compression
I don't really know a lot about the subject. The DXT1 version is the most efficient if you don't need an alpha channel. The DXT2-5 reserve a lot of room for the alpha channel. Have you tried this compression? I wasn't able to check if the .dds was already compressed.
24fd0add-50ce-4725-8821-19577eaebda7-image.png
Your full map decals use the alpha channel. So DXT3 would need to be used, but still a significant compression. If you were able to not need the alpha channel on your main decal you could even get down to rhoughly 1/3rd.
Haven't tested it yet but I assume FA should be able to handle those files.

Back on topic: Most people don't download the maps before queuing. This results in subjectively half of the tmm games not launching at the start of the pool rotation. Later on in the month it gets better. I would put that auto downloader at a higher priority.

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@harzer99

I cannot produce the same results. Using dxt1 turns one of the decals from ~22mb to ~11mb, and DXT3 appears to have no impact on the file size. What tool did you use to generate those files? I used Photoshop with the Nvidia DDS plugin and ImageMagick - both have similar results.

7880a55c-7610-409d-ba00-1650b45ce084-image.png

(note: these assets are 4k as they are used during production. Final would be 8k and ~4x the file size)

edit: the game does appear to support the format - so please do inform how you made them πŸ™‚

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@Sheikah I am not sure if I agree with your reasoning, for me it seems that most issues come from the fact that people don't have a map downloaded and then they take too long to download it when a match is found. Forcing a player to download all of the maps would solve this issue and you can treat the map downloads as something like a monthly update that you need to get in order to play. Considering that 1/4 of the maps stay the same in between rotations and the map pools for lower rated people are small it would be <400 MB which I don't think is unreasonable these days. Another problem it would fix would be the possibility to dodge certain maps on 1vs1 and TMM because you can just cancel the download of the map you don't want to play and re queue.